Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Global Visa Delays Follow Technical Difficulties with State Department System

From OgletreeDeakins, 07/29/2014

Last week, the U.S. Department of State’s visa processing database, which controls the issuance of visas and passports at the U.S. consulates abroad, experienced system performance issues (including outages) leading to worldwide delays in visa issuances for individuals seeking entry into the United States. The malfunction in the Consular Consolidated Database stalled the processing of U.S. visas for foreign nationals at consulates around the world, and was not limited to one consulate or country.

Although the consular database is back online, travelers should anticipate delays in obtaining U.S. visas. As confirmed by Department of State officials, consular systems are not fully operational and priority is being given to immigrant visa cases over nonimmigrant visa issuances, which are further delayed as a result of backlogs that have lengthened visa wait times. Visa applicants will be notified by the consulate when their passports and visas are ready to be collected.

Friday, July 25, 2014

GLITCH CRASHES GLOBAL US PASSPORT, VISA OPERATIONS

From The Associated Press, 07/23/2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department's global database for issuing travel documents has crashed, resulting in major delays for potentially millions of people around the world waiting for U.S. passports and visas, officials said Wednesday.
Unspecified glitches in the department's Consular Consolidated Database have resulted in "significant performance issues, including outages" in the processing of applications for passports, visas and reports of Americans born abroad since Saturday, spokeswoman Marie Harf said. She said the problem is worldwide and not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category.
"We apologize to applicants and recognize this may cause hardship to applicants waiting on visas and passports. We are working to correct the issue as quickly as possible," she said.
Harf said the problems with the database have resulted in an "extensive backlog" of applications, which has, in turn, hampered efforts to get the system fully back on line.
It was not immediately clear how many people are affected, but two U.S. officials familiar with the situation said some 50,000 applicants were hit in one country alone. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly or identify the country.
The database is the State Department's system of record and is used to approve, record and print visas and other documents to ensure that national security checks are conducted on applicants.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Immigration Offices Will Close Across the Middle East, North Africa and Parts of Asia for Eid-al-Fitr

From Fragomen.com, 07/24/2014


Government offices throughout the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia will be closed in observance of Eid-al-Fitr. In most of the world, Eid-al-Fitr is expected to be observed between July 28 and August 1, though the exact dates will vary by country depending on lunar sightings. 

Immigration offices in Turkey will be closed July 28 – 30 and application processing is not expected to start again until August 4. Similar closures are expected in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Government offices in Saudi Arabia are expected to stay closed further into August. The Malaysian Immigration Department (MID) headquarters closed on July 21 and will stay closed until August 8; application processing will not start again until August 11. 


What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals 

Employers and foreign nationals should be aware that immigration processing delays are likely in the weeks after Eid-al-Fitr, due to application backlogs that accumulate during this period.